guilty mum : away too long?

Nov 29th, 2004, 06:29 AM
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What harm is it going to do the children? It'll teach them some independence if nothing else...
Tallulah is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 06:30 AM
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I've done a lot of traveling without my kids, but I would never, ever leave kids that age for four weeks. I think two weeks, maybe 12 days, was the longest I ever left for, and on those trips I was really missing the kids, and they me, toward the end. If you are already obsessing and feeling guilty, imagine how you're going to feel during weeks 3 and 4 of the trip -will you even enjoy it?

Lots of people fly from Australia to Europe for less than 4 weeks. I don't understand the logic of having to spend 4 weeks because it's a long trip over. Neither do I understand having to spend $20,000 to bring the kids (and why a babysitter?), whether it's Aussie dollars or not. There's something wrong with that math. We took our kids to Europe when they were that age, and except for transportation and hotel costs, it didn't cost any more to have them in Europe than it did to have them at home.
You sound like you're already miserable with this decision. Fortunately, you've got plenty of time to rethink it.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 06:32 AM
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Let a Grandma speak up...Go, and let your parents enjoy those precious children!

We have kept our grandchildren many times with great success. Admittedly, the longest time was three weeks (while the parents were in Europe), but we certainly have never felt that we were "putting our lives on hold."

When our children were small, we were lucky to have grandparents here who were delighted to keep them whenever we wanted to take off. We did, however, take them with us on many many trips, which has resulted in their adult love for travel, I guess.

Anyway, we love having the children here, and they seem to love to come. I like to think we are helping to "make memories" for them.


Byrd is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 06:42 AM
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In the grand scheme of things, I doubt leaving children alone with grandparents for four weeks will greatly affect you, the kids, or the elders. But I am amazed that you would even want to. That a vacation is worth more to you than going into debt, and that you are willing to impose on others for long-term care, and that you would even consider leaving your babies for all that time, all seem to indicate a certain level of immaturity and selfishness, or even instability, that you should address elsewhere.

What kind of "solution" is it to go into more debt and drag two little ones along with a babysitter to assuage your guilt while you fulfill your "dream?"

To answer your only question: Yes, twice when they were younger, for five days. Once, when they were teens, for ten days, and we all found that too long.

Good luck with your decision, and your life.
Dreamer2 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 06:48 AM
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Dreamer2: Unnecessarily harsh, I feel.
Tallulah is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 07:13 AM
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When I was a kid, I loved staying with my grandma's place or having her stay with me. No, I was nowhere near traumatized. I knew my parents would be back and loved being spoiled, who doesn't ?

Go for your 4 weeks, enjoy yourselves, call home often and don't be dissappointed if your kids are not missing you.
ssachida is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 07:43 AM
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Some of my happiest memories are the time I spent at my maternal grandmom's place.

My Dad's would be tranferred to new cities every 2-3 years and the only sense of roots I have are from my time spent at grandma's.
I have had cousins' who have actually spent a couple of years with grandparents because their parents were living in little village with no good schools. As far as I know no lasting damage done to any of us - and yes they were about 5 when they did this.
Those advising to go into debt for this is not a good idea - that's the typical credit driven mentality that seems to put so many people in the US into a situation where they are three paychecks away from being homeless.

indie is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 07:44 AM
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I wasn't going to respond because my opinion is simply my opinion. BUT, I can't stop thinking about this post. I would never leave my young son for such a length of time. While older children MAY do just fine for 4 weeks your young children probably will not. These children are too young to be required to soothe themselves through the absence of both parents for an entire month. Even my 7 year old brother misses our mom terribly when he stays with me or even his own father for more than about 10 days.

That said, why not ask a set of grandparents to accompany you? My grandmother often travelled with her children and grandchildren. Perhaps you have a teenage niece who would like to come along? What about another family? You could share kids so that everyone gets some adult time and some kid time. There are many options if you're creative.
I wouldn't even leave my dog for 4 weeks.
trishiad is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 08:49 AM
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I'm still puzzled about the babysitter. Who--except the fabulously wealthy---travels with babysitters? It doesn't sound as though you are in that category because you're borrowing for the trip, which is the worst idea yet. Do you have complete responsibility for the children with no help from your husband? It sounds as though you are the one desperate to get away. He's agreed to go, reluctantly, but only if it is for a period of time that obviously has you in a quandry.

There seem to be larger questions here for you to think about---
kswl is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 08:56 AM
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I personally would go. I too think that 4 weeks is probably a little too long, but I'm sure your kids will have fun with their grandparents. You shouldn't feel guilty about taking a trip, especially one you've been dreaming of. One month, in the scheme of things, isn't really that long. Just make sure you call a lot and send lots of postcards!

I can also relate to your husband not wanting to go to Europe for less than a month. My husband and I were thinking of traveling to New Zealand and possibly Australia, but we too don't want to go unless we have a minimum of three to four weeks. Its expensive to travel there and the flight is so long. We decided that if we are going to spend the money and long hours on the flight, we would want to be there for awhile and really take advantage of areas because we probably wouldn't be returning for a long time.

If you are feeling really guilty, perhaps cutting your trip back by even a week would help. In any event, I wish you luck planning your trip.

tcreath is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 09:14 AM
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You have certainly received a lot of advice and I can't help noting that much of it is arbitrary and emotionally driven. Four weeks is horrid, two weeks is OK, 12 days is best. This from people who don't even know you and your kids!

Let me throw my log in the fire. I think your kids are probably too young to enjoy the trip. They likely wouldn't enjoy doing the things you will be doing; you likely won't have the time to find amusements for them. You will have memories of what you see; they will have memories of standing in lines and being forced to eat strange foods. Leave them home until they are old enough to appreciate what you will be seeing.

As to the length of your trip (I won't call it a separation, as the children will be with close family), I agree that the cost of the flight, both in money and time, argues for staying longer rather than, for example, making two trips. Phone service is so good today that you will be easily able to keep in touch, although the time difference may limit when you can call. I have avoided the new phones that transmit video also, but if that is available it may be a comfort to you and your kids to see each other.

It's up to you and your family, but I would guess that the kids might notice the difference between a weekend and a week, but would not notice the difference between one week and four. Plenty of normal people have gone through childhood separations, whether for camp or school or just visiting relatives, without harm.

You should be checking into what you have to do to authorize the grandparents to get medical treatment for the kids should one of them get sick. I'm not sure travel insurance would help if you just had to return early because of lonliness; they write those policies so as to limit their liability to specific circumstances, so you should read the actual policy before buying.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 09:18 AM
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you asked, I'm answering. No, I've never left the kids for more than 3-4 days.
There is nothing wrong with wating for a dream. Why now? Why not in three years or ten years? I had four kids in six years- taking them with you would be a DIFFERENT trip- not better or worse, just different. "I want to travel so badly" heck, I do too, but the reality is I have a family and somethings will just have to wait.

Africa is on the top of mylist but I won't be going there until my youngest is old enough. (She's five and I want to do a lot while there).

As for the babysitter- I could take one with me IF I wanted to. Many of my friends take a sitter or nanny with them on the "family" vacation. Me, I like my kids and they've learned that sometimes they have to compromise.
highledge is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 09:36 AM
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I am getting such a kick out of the advice to call often and send lots of postcards. I'd like to know your reaction if your significant other said he/she would be leaving for a month of fun, but would be sure to call often and send lots of post cards while gone.

This is so crazy, I would have thought it a troll, but for earlier serious posts asking for sincere help planning.

Again, it's not going to be the end of the world for the kids if she goes, or the end of the world for her if she doesn't. But it just seems odd to me that she would indulge herself when clearly she can't afford it, and clearly has pressing responsibilities.

She's admitted she needs a shrink, has overextended finacially, can't handle two kids on holiday, uses vacations as escapism, and is having panic attacks. What kind of trip is that?! Especially during those frequent phone calls when she'll hear: "I miss you so much, mommy. When are you coming home? Please come home soon."

Dreamer2 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 09:47 AM
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The replies to this are emotionally driven, because the question is.

What is the longest time you have spend apart from your kids up to now? How did you feel? Have the grandparents ever taken care of the children for longer than a weekend? How did they feel about that? Only you can make this decision. All anyone on this board can say is how they would feel leaving their kids for four weeks, and as you can see, there are a lot of different opinions.
Tulips is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 10:02 AM
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I think your feelings of guilt and worry are perfectly normal. I just took my first trip to Europe without my son Norman last year! I bought one of those wonderful phone cards and called him twice a day to be sure he had eaten right and taken his medications (he has arthritis and is now also developing Parkinsons). Luckily, he had my sister who lives nearby and she cooked some stew and postroast for him. He even drove her to mass each morning. If my parents were still around, I would have left him with them without a worry. You know young children will not enjoy a trip there-they are too young to enjoy the sophisticated charms of Europe. Norman now tells me he hated being dragged over there to all those cathedrals as a boy. He was often grumpy and cried on the plane. And he was 38 on out first trip! I think that those trips were so hard on him that they were part of the reason he is in counseling for the past 20 years. I think they really scarred his childhood. So I often wish I had left him home with his grandparents. My advice then is to go and enjoy yourself. The children will cope with your absence and if you don't go you will only take it out on them and resent them for being too dependent and holding back your own growth. Don;t think they will not sense that, and it will not damage their souls far more than a few nights crying themselves to sleep wondering where you are or if you shall return. Cheers my dear child!
nellyanne is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 10:02 AM
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Aren't there lots of fun things you can do with your kids right now? You'll never get this time back again.
MrAmazed is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 10:31 AM
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What you ultimately decide to do will be based on the needs of your children and your family circumstances rather than on any advice you receive on this forum. I would never be so presumptuous as to suggest that there is a right answer to your dilema. You will experience parental guilt many times in the years ahead, for various reasons- so get used to it. Does that mean you should not travel without your children for 3-4 weeks next year? Again, that depends on many factors which are beyond the scope of this forum.

I too am a parent of two children 10 and 13. My spouse and I have travelled without them in the past, but they have accompanied us an all our vactions since we took them to Italy in 2001 when they were 10 and 7. We have done other long trips since. We very much enjoy this family time, introducing them to new things and seeing things through their eyes.

We do not travel with our nanny. We enjoy the time we have together and adapt our holiday plans to the childrens' needs and interests. It is rewarding for us to see the development of an expanded world view, even in children so young.

That being said- my spouse and I have traveled without our children for 3-4 weeks at a time on several occasions. The first time our eldest child was 20 months old. We went to France for about three weeks and both sets of grandparents took turns staying in our home. Another difference is that we are fortunate to have a full-time live-in nanny and our children have been able to remain in their usual familiar environment during our absence. This worked well for everyone and we have done this several times since, though I recognize that not every family has this option.

The only negative experience we had was when we returned from that first trip to France- our eldest "made strange" for a day afterward and seemed to prefer his grandmother. That phase was difficult but passed very quickly and there were no permanent residual effects. As the children became a little older, they were more occupied with their own lives and by being doted upon by their grandparents, such that any of our 3-4 week vacations did not trouble them at all.

We have always telephoned regularly during any long vacation and yes, we did miss the children terribly- but there are simply some trips that are very difficult with and for children and it is best to wait until they are older ( India and parts of Southeast Asia come to mind). We did not wish to wait to see some of these destinations and our family circumstances were such that we could travel, secure in the knowledge that our children were home and well-cared for while we were gone.

I do not feel guilty about taking those trips in the past, nor that I have missed any significant milestone in my childrens' development as a result.

No doubt there will be those on this board with a different view. To each his own. What matters to me at the end of the day is that we are a close family, my children are happy and well-adjusted, independant in spirit and not disturbed by the idea of their parents being away. I think that is healthy.

That is my family- you must do what is right for yours.

talexander is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 10:54 AM
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"You shouldn't feel guilty about taking a trip, especially one you've been dreaming of." Tracy, when you make a decision to become a parent, you (temporarily) check those self-indulgent dreams at the door.

kaz11, we've taken two trips without our children: one for two weeks, and another for 8 days. Our youngest was 8 when we left on the first of those, and even at that age, my wife had a tough time leaving her with grandparents for that long.

My first thought is to shorten the trip to two weeks, and set aside any saved money for another 5-10 years, when your kids will be a great age to take along.
beachbum is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 10:58 AM
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It's a personal question being asked, so I hope kaz11 doesn't mind personal advice.

My free advice - if you do not have a paid job, focus on getting one. That will give you more money and more free time, so maybe you won't feel trapped. The kids will probably be in school next year, whether you get a job or not, and that will give you more free time too. I don't know if you have a paid job or not, or if it's full-time, but I'm just guessing this might be a possible solution.

And more personal advice - I wouldn't leave kids that young for four weeks. I've never left them for a trip when my husband wasn't available to take care of them.

I wouldn't go into debt for a trip. I'd save up enough to have a cushion outside of the trip money and then go as cheaply as is reasonable.
WillTravel is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 10:59 AM
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I'm really surprised by all the negative and judgmental responses to this post. The poster asked for some advice and thoughts on leaving her children at home so she could travel. Instead of decent answers, many replies are telling her she needs counseling and financial advisors? That's a little extreme, especially when we don't know her situation. My parents left me (and my siblings) with my grandparents while they took a few vacations and I don't recall them needing counseling.

I think the bottom line is that only the poster knows her children and her situation. If you want to leave them and feels comfortable, then fine. If not, maybe you should consider postponing the trip for a few years or until the kids are old enough to enjoy and appreciate going along.
tcreath is offline  

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